Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme

Anyone operating an automated vehicle with the ADS engaged (automated mode) in an ADS trial on Victorian roads must hold an ADS permit. 

An ADS permit is required to operate an automated vehicle in automated mode for testing or development purposes. 

You also need a permit if the automated mode is engaged as part of a trial designed to help road authorities understand the potential impacts of automated vehicles, such as trials with an infrastructure or road network management focus.

If you are looking to conduct a trial of automated driving technology in Victoria and require a permit, or if you are unsure whether you need a permit, please contact the Safer Vehicles & Future Vehicle Technology team at [email protected] so we can assist you.

ADS permits

The purpose of the ADS permit scheme is to ensure that on-road trials of automated vehicles are conducted safely.

Permit holders are responsible for the actions of the vehicle and are deemed to be driving the vehicle while it’s in automated mode. Test drivers (vehicle supervisors) have similar obligations while the vehicle is in automated mode, to a licensed driver supervising a learner driver.

An ADS permit authorises:

  • the permit holder to drive any automated vehicle specified in the permit
  • a person named in the permit to be a vehicle supervisor
  • an automated vehicle listed in the permit to participate in an ADS trial

All permits are subject to conditions which relate to the use of the vehicle, record keeping and reporting.

Trial guidelines

The Victorian Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles (Victorian Guidelines) have been developed to provide practical guidance for ADS permit holders and potential applicants. 

They are based on the principles developed by the National Transport Commission and Austroads in the Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia, but address the Victorian-specific application requirements in detail.

They also provide information about obligations under other laws that may apply to ADS trials.

The Victorian Guidelines will be updated from time to time and published in the Government Gazette.

Current version: Published in Government Gazette, no. S421, Wednesday 12 September 2018

Applications and eligibility requirements

Permits are available to individuals and companies. To be eligible to apply for an ADS permit, the following criteria must be met:

  • Companies - the company must be a corporation within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth, and not insolvent or an externally administered body within the meaning of that Act.
  • Individuals - you must hold a full Australian driver licence.

Applicants must demonstrate they have the necessary processes in place to ensure the safety of the trial can be appropriately managed.

All applications must include a completed application form, Safety Management Plan that complies with the Victorian Guidelines and evidence of insurance against public liability for personal injury or damage to property in connection with the trial.

The best way to start the process is to contact us at [email protected] 

Company applications

If you are applying on behalf of a company, you must also provide a letter of authority which authorises you to act on the company’s behalf. This must be on incorporated letterhead and include:

  • Full company name and address
  • Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN), where applicable
  • Name of person acting on behalf of the company
  • List of activities that can be performed on behalf of the company (e.g. apply for and manage ADS permit related matters).

The letter must be signed by two company directors, or a director and company secretary. Where there is a sole director, the letter must be signed by that director.

Vehicle supervisors 

To operate an automated vehicle in an ADS trial, a vehicle supervisor must:

  • hold a current full driver licence (not probationary or learner) appropriate to the category of automated vehicle (e.g. car, light rigid etc.)
  • meet Austroads fitness to drive requirements
  • obey all Victorian road rules
  • comply with all conditions of the ADS permit
  • comply with any conditions imposed on their driver licence.

Incident reporting

Certain incidents that may pose significant safety or security risks during a trial are classed as serious incidents. Serious incidents are defined under the regulations and cover certain road rule breaches and other incidents which have the potential to result in serious harm.

ADS permit holders are required to complete and submit a Serious Incident Report within 24 hours of becoming aware of a serious incident. Report forms can be downloaded from the ‘Forms and documents’ section below.

We will review all reports received and take action if required. Some incidents will result in an automatic suspension of the permit as soon as we're notified.

Further information about serious incidents and the responsibilities of permit holders can be found in the Guidelines and Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme information document [PDF 261 Kb].

Imported vehicles

If you want to import a vehicle for testing in Victoria, you need to contact the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

We can help to facilitate the vehicle import process. You'll also need to submit a copy of your Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) to us with your permit application.

Forms, reports and documents

If you want to apply for an ADS permit, need to submit a report or are just looking for further information, please refer to the below documents or contact us at [email protected].

ADS permit application form [PDF 622 Kb]

Serious Incident Report [PDF 141Kb]

Automated Driving System (ADS) permit scheme information document [PDF 261 Kb]

What is an automated vehicle?

An automated vehicle is one that has an automated driving system (ADS), which when engaged, can perform the entire dynamic driving task (within a particular operational design domain). This equates to SAE level 3 driving automation or higher.

When is a vehicle in automated mode?

A vehicle is in automated mode when the dynamic driving task is being performed by the ADS, even if a vehicle supervisor is also monitoring the driving environment or ADS.

An automated vehicle is not considered to be in automated mode if only part of the dynamic driving task is being performed by the vehicle. For example, where only partial functionality is activated (e.g. lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control are on, but the system has limited monitoring capability and expects the human driver to perform the remainder of the dynamic driving task). This would be an example of SAE level 2 driving automation currently found in some vehicles.

What is the dynamic driving task?

The dynamic driving task means all of the real-time operational and tactical functions (other than the selection of final and intermediate destinations) required to operate a vehicle in on-road traffic, including (but not limited to):

  • turning, lane keeping and lane changing and providing the appropriate signal for any such manoeuvre; and
  • accelerating and decelerating; and
  • monitoring the driving environment and responding to whatever objects or events are detected; and
  • manoeuvre planning.

When is an ADS permit required?

The requirement for an ADS permit is based on the capabilities of the vehicle, whether the ADS is engaged and where it is being used.

A permit is only required if all of the below apply:

  • The vehicle is an automated vehicle.
  • The automated vehicle is being used in an ADS trial with the ADS engaged.
  • The ADS is engaged while the automated vehicle is on a road or road related area.

If all of the above conditions are not met, a permit will not be required. Examples of when a permit is not be required include:

  • Use of the vehicle without engaging the ADS (i.e. driven normally)
  • Personal use of a commercially available vehicle with no active research, testing or development purpose.

If a permit is not required, the human driver remains responsible and must have proper control of the vehicle at all times.

ADS, ADS trial, automated vehicle, road and road related area are defined under the Road Safety Act 1986.

What laws apply to the use of automated vehicles?

The following legislation, regulations and guidelines contain specific laws regarding the use of automated vehicles in Victoria. 

Contact us

To find out more information or apply for an ADS permit, contact us at [email protected]

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